The best Vietnamese in Sydney, just like the street food from Vietnam

The best Vietnamese in Sydney, just like the street food from Vietnam. Pho Addicted.

Munch Munch Munch

Seriously. The best Pho in Sydney if not the world outside of Vietnam! It tastes like the stuff straight from the street of the Motherland and the staff really are the epitome of “service with a smile”. The Pho stock is so addictive it should come with a warning label. Half the office where I work is now going down to Photown get their weekly fix.

The restaurant decor is basic, it’s on a busy, industrial road but it’s not about the mise-en-scene because once you tuck in, nothing else matters. And the Owner Mai is such a joy, always ready with a beaming smile and genuinely loves that people adore her food. My favourite of all the dishes has got to be their Crispy Chicken Pho (13.50), so crunchy your ears can enjoy the experience too. I’ve also enjoyed their Rice Paper rolls (3 for 7), Rare and Cooked Beef Pho (10) and their Vermicelli Noodle Salads as well as the Green Papaya prawn salads are light and tasty. My Partner will order nothing other than the Lemongrass Beef with Vermicelli (13). They also do Bahn Mi (fabulous apparently though not GF, 5). And if you’re a fan of Vietnamese style coffee they also have this option available as well as run of the mill espresso. And finally it BYO. But with Dan Murphys around the corner that’s hardly a set back.

Photown is open 7 days a week all day until late. As the Dilmah guy says “Do yourself a favour, do try it”.

94 McEvoy St, Alexandria.02 96900718

Urban Spoon


Hello to my regular followers. I apologise that of late I have not been a usual weekly blog contributor. I moved house and unfortunately had to pack up my gear for lack of space in the ummm new space. So on the weekend I will add some new content, a review on the best place in Sydney to get amaaaazing Pho and some cheeky cheesy gluten free macaroni.

Thank you for your patience x

A different style of beef stew with lovely subtle flavours

A different style of beef stew with lovely subtle flavours

Munch Munch

Craving a slow cooked beef stew with less effort than Julia Child’s Beef Bourgignon I came across this interestesting sounding recipe on the Taste.com site. The organge zest, dark choc and cinnamon really seemed like a fantastic combination and a nice twist on your typical savoury slow cook options. Also it’s almost a one pot stew so it all ends up in your casserole dish. I have a fabulous cast iron french oven which really keeps in the heat, so be eating type a large portion of the beef looks like it’s been shredded.

The only thing I’ll do differently is instead of nicking the boyfriend’s last glass of Beaujolais I’ll pour in a red wine with more body to add a little more depth to the sauce. I served this with mashed potatoes, next time I will try quinoa cooked in a little beef stock/water combo for something different. I also did most of the cooking the day before. Read through the recipe and you’ll see why as the Taste site suggested chilling for 6 hours, I just thought it easier to do overnight.

  • 250g  pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil, to brown meats and onions
  • 2kg rump, roughly cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 brown onions, halved, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves,  chopped
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine, I reckon a shiraz or heavy blend would work best
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, lightly crushed
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 strips orange peel
  • 30g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Fresh continental parsley, to serve
  • Extra orange zest to make it look pretty, but think about prawn tails when you go to eat the stew just pop them to side of your plate

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Heat your casserole dish over high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a  bowl.

Pour in a little of the oil and add one-quarter of the beef and cook until brown on the outside. Transfer to the bowl with the pancetta. Repeat, in 3 more batches, with the remaining beef. When I stirred the beef occasionally I use a chunk to help remove the caremelised oil on the sides of the dish, this way it wouldn’t build too much in thickness, thus preventing burnage in the oven later.

Add the vinegar to the dish and cook, stirring to dislodge any bits that have cooked on to the base, for 1-2 minutes. Pour over the beef mixture.

Heat some more oil in the dish over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.

Add the beef mixture back to the dish with the onions, stock, wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, thyme, orange peel and chocolate. Lay a piece of foil just over the top of the sauce and cover with the lid. Bring to the boil. Bake in oven for 2 hours or until the beef is tender. Keeping an eye on it to make sure your gravy doesn’t disappear.

Set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Place in fridge to chill. I actually cooked this Sunday afternoon, so my stew infused overnight, it meant come Monday after work most of the cooking was done.

An hour before you’re ready to eat preheat oven to 160°C.

Use a spoon to remove any fat from the surface of the stew.

Turn the stove onto a low heat and warm the stew, stirring, until it is sauce again. Cover with foil again and lid and bake in oven for 45-50 minutes or until the meat is tender and the sauce thickens.

Ladle to stew onto a bed of mash/quinoa/polenta and sprinkle the stew with parsley and orange zest to serve.

Gluten Free Zesty Calamari

Gluten Free Zesty Calamari

Munch Munch

Sticking to seafood this Easter long weekend but don’t feel like scraping scales of the BBQ? Why not prep some Crumby Calamari, it’s inexpensive, healthy (probs not when fried) and very munchy. I lightened the taste with parsley and lemon zest for something a little more zingy. Fast and Easy so great if you’re entertaining a bunch of friends. BTW the pic above shows about half of what I cooked, but then again you can NEVER have enough crumby calamari.

  • 400g fresh calamari rings
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1/2 cup gluten free plain flour, seasoned. Once again I like using Orgran.
  • 2 tbs parsley, finley chopped
  • 1 Egg & Splash of milk for wash, whisked
  • 3/4 cup gluten free crumbs, love the mixed bag from the Lifestyle Bakery
  • 3 lemons, zest only (you can reserve the rest to squeeze over the calamari once cooked if your wish)
  • 300-400 ml vegetable (depending on the steepness of your pot/wok)

Line up three wee bowls for the crumbing line. Season the flour and add the parsley in one. Add the egg wash to the second and finely combine the lemon zest and bread crumbs in the third.

Rinse your calamari rings and dry off with paper towel. Flour all of your calamari rings, shaking off the excess. Then using one hand dunk the ring one at a time into the egg then transfer to the crumby bowl set aside whilst you heat your oil.

Heat the oil to around 190 degrees celsius and cook your rings a few at a time til golden brown, should take no longer than 45 seconds. Drain on paper towel.

Season your rings with a little salt and drizzle with fresh lemon juice. And server hot before they cool too much and rubberize.

These go down well with a little aioli or seafood dressing if you have it around the house.



Gluten Free Scones in thirty minutes

Gluten Free Scones in thirty minutes

Munch Munch

So easy you can do this recipe with a shonking hangover. I actually thought since I use Orgran flours all the time in my baking I’d take their advise and recereate their Scone recipe from their Site. Lovely tasting, however mine only rose about twice their size but I can guess that the more I practice making Gluten Free Scones the better I’ll get. I did have to amend a few measurements though to get a scone-y dough.

  • 2 3/4 cup self-raising flour, naturally I used Orgran
  • pinch of salt
  • Pinch of baking powder, I used Wards, which is available even in convenience stores.
  • 1 tbs. sugar (12g)
  • 30g chopped butter
  • ¾ cup milk 
  • 1 egg
  • extra milk for glazing
  • extra flour for flour bench and dipping your cutter into

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with wax paper. Also on a clean bench space sprinkle some flour for working with later.

Beat the Egg and milk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl double sift your flour, salt and baking powder. Then add the sugar.

Toss in the butter pieces and using your thumbs and forefingers rub the butter into the flour. I remembered my Dad’s old pinch test. If you can pinch a heap of flour between your fingers and it remains in the a clump the flour is ready for the next stage. If not, add a little more butter until you get this consistency.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and then pour in the milk and egg. Make a shape with your right hand as though it were a talking sock puppet and plonk it into the well, stir the flour mix gradually working your way out from the centre until everything is combined. If the mix is too wet sprinkle in some more flour or if it feels really dry and as though it won’t hold add a little more milk. The great thing about these simple recipes is they’re easy to amend if the dough doesn’t feel right i.e. pliable and soft not sticky.

Tip the dough onto your prepared flour bench and roll out until the dough is about 2.5 cm thick. Using a drinking glass (or biscuit/scone cutter) dip it into some flour on the bench and then cut out your scones. This will stop the glass/cutter sticking to the dough.

Baste with the little milk and pop in the oven for ten minutes or until lightly golden on top and firmish to touch. The milk is what creates that lovely golden colour.

Once cooked set aside to cool and serve with your favourite jam and thickened cream.



Great Scot!

Grab your picnic basket Boo-Boo we've got Scotch Eggs

Grab your picnic basket Boo-Boo we’ve got Scotch Eggs

Munch Munch Munch omg Munch

His Lordship recently surprised me with a Scotch Egg something I’d never tried and he loved from the short time he lived as a kid in England. I didn’t want to eat the crummy egg because it clearly wasn’t Gluten Free and my tum would have some serious issues if I ate the whole thing, so to appease him I had a bite. Wow so tasty I couldn’t wait to make a gluten free version so I couldn’t enjoy the combination without nasty side effects. I found an authentic looking recipe on the Gourmet Traveller site that tried to keep it traditional and thought I’d amend the ingredients to make it gluten free without compromising on flavour. I also chose to use pre-made plain pork sausages as I figured the finer consistency would be much easier to work with.

  • 8 eggs, 6 of these to hard boil, 2 to make an egg wash with a splash of milk
  • 1 sml brown onion, or half large, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs GF Worcestershire sauce, Spring Gully has one that is inexpensive
  • 1 tsp tobasco
  • 1 tbs thyme
  • 600g pork sausages, original called for minced pork but I was terrified that the mince I bought would be too lumpy and would just fall off when being fried.
  • Approx 1/2 cup GF Plain Four, seasoned with salt and pepper. I used Orgran All Purpose Plain Four, I always use them for any baking.
  • Egg wash
  • Approx 1 cup GF Bread Crumbs, I used Lifestyle Bakery, which was a blend of various flours etc and produced a fantastic crunchy crumb
  • Peanut/Vegetable oil for frying (1 to 2 cups depending on how deep your pan is. I had the eggs covered to about a third and turned whilst they cooked.

In a wee saucepan pop in your eggs and water and bring to the boil. Boil eggs for around ten minutes or so, til you reckon they’re hard boiled then drain and set aside.

Snip the very ends of the sausages off, then using your thumbs and forefingers place them in the middle of the sausage then squeeze the meat out, discard the skins. Your hands will get sticky and slimy – embrace the mess, because you will only get messier later on.

Combine sausage meat in a bowl with the onion, thyme, garlic, mustard, worcestershire sauce and tabasco. Mix well with your hands and put in the fridge til you’re ready.

Set up three small bowls (like Asian rice bowls) for your crumbing factory line, plus an extra saucer. In one bowl per ingredient add the flour, egg wash (just whisk the eggs with a splash of milk), and crumbs. On the saucer add a little more crumbs. I found after dusting and dunking the shape was a little off so I used the saucer to get the shape of the egg back to a nice smoothness.

Peel the eggs and dust in some seasoned flour. Shake off the excess.

In the palm of your hand smooth out approx 1/6 of the pork mix. I created a long rectangle from the base of my left palm towards the edge of my fingers with the mix. I then placed the egg at the finger end, so when I curled my fingers the meat began to blanket the egg. Using my right hand I continued to roll the egg so it was completely covered and mushed the two ends of the meat together to form a Scotch Egg blankie. Seal the tops and bottoms of the egg. Do this for the remaining eggs.

Once all eggs are covered in meat, dust with flour again, dunk into the egg mix and cover with the crumbs. Continue to shape the eggs til you’re happy then refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them.

In your saucepan/fryer or as I used my non-stick electric wok pour in the oil and heat to 180 degrees celsius (I used a meat thermometer, and on my electric wok it was at the 3/4 temperature mark). Note I used the wok because of the steep curve, it meant I could cook the eggs one at a time in a little oil bath and not have to use too much oil and it meant that the eggs weren’t going to stick. Plus it has a lid which meant little splatter.

Using a slotted spoon/spatula gently lower the eggs into the oil (I cooked them one at a time). Cook your eggs for approximately 7 minutes (I used the Timer on my iPhone so I wouldn’t over/undercook and it prevented me from being distracted). Turn them every few minutes with kitchen tongs to ensure even cooking and colouring. Your Eggs will be a lovely golden brown colour and the casing should feel stiff when they’re ready. Remove them using the same slotted spoon/spatula and drain them on paper towel. Pop in the fridge ’til they’re cold and then enjoy!

Gourmet Traveller magazine suggested eating them with a lemon mayonnaise. I didn’t simply because the eggs were amazing on their own. After the success of this recipe I will be making a whole bunch more from this food magazine.

Some say it's from North Africa others Israel - I say just try it we're all one world.

Its really just eggs with tomato sauce

Munch Munch Munch

We regularly eat in our local Israeli Cafe called Cafe Shenkin on the weekends and they have this amazing spicey-tomatoesy-dippy-breaky that we love to order. It’s an exotic departure from the usual cafe style big breaky. So this weekend I was inspired to make Shakshuka myself (actually my Partner sent me the link… hint hint) to the recipe published in our local Sydney newspaper the SMH. A few bits were changed around to suit our taste buds, namely me adding more food than the pan could take, that famous film line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”… swam through my mind throughout the cooking process.

This is a dish easily made Veggie friendly, simply don’t add the Chorizo, and supplement with things like red kidney beans, corn, zucchini etc.

The quantities below makes sauce for four large servings. If there’s only two of you, then just freeze the left over sauce for another day. It means the next time you eat it all you have to do is bake the eggs :)

  • 1/2 Chorizo, finely sliced (not in original)
  • Olive oil, to saute
  • 2 red capsicum, chopped – think pizza topping size
  • 1 green capsicum, chopped (original stated yellow – couldn’t get them)
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp harissa sauce, you’ll find it in delis, gourmet food grocers or the “exotic” isle in large food chain stores
  • 400g canned tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 400g tin chickpeas (not in original)
  • 8 eggs
  • Fetta and GF bread to serve (not in original)

Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

In a non stick pan, sear the chorizo, remove and rest on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Wipe out the pan with paper towel and drizzle a little olive oil.

Add the capsicums and eggplant and cook on a medium to high heat for ten minutes, until softened.  Season with salt and pepper and add the fresh tomatoes. Add all of the spices, including the Harissa and cook for a further two minutes.

Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Simmer gently for five to ten minutes until sauce gets a little thicker.

Remove half the sauce and blend. Add your spicey smoothie back to the pan. * This was my change to make it more saucy and dip friendly.

Stir through the chickpeas until warmed through.

In your little baking dishes, depending on how large you want your serves, small pie tins, ramekins etc spray with a little olive oil and spoon in some of the sauce mix. Add the chorizo and layer with a little more sauce. * Different from the original again as I was influenced by the single serve dishes offered at Cafe Shenkin. 

Make little pockets or wells in your sauce with a spoon to crack your eggs into.

Pop in the oven uncovered and cook for five to ten minutes, or until eggs look cooked.

Carefully remove your little bowls/dishes from the oven and sprinkle them with some feta. Serve with fresh bread.

Handy Hint: I used a tea towel wrapped around the dishes to carry them and used my saucepan cork boards to keep them from burning the table.


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